Instagram Your Leftovers: History Depends on It

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Today we have Instagram, overflowing with glamorous images created not by professional photographers but by home cooks in kitchens around the world. What an opportunity! With its vast reach and the technological savvy of its users, Instagram could go beyond mere glamour and open up a domestic world that has always been elusive. I’m talking about ordinary meals at home — the great unknown in the study of food.

Sure, we have agricultural statistics and marketing surveys; we have household records from 18th-century castles and charts showing the average consumption of Popsicles in the United States from 1953 to 1982. But there’s nothing to tell us what a schoolteacher in Connecticut served to her family on a Thursday in 1895. Or what she was thinking when she boiled the string beans for 45 minutes, put ketchup in the salad dressing and decided to try her neighbor’s recipe for rice pudding, the one with a little cinnamon.

Could Instagram capture today’s version of that story? Could it zero in on the third consecutive night of frozen tacos or the mug of milky Sanka that makes you feel like somebody’s grandfather but has become an unexpected nighttime addiction? Next time you eat a meal that’s certain to be forgettable, that’s the very moment to pull out your phone and hit “share.”

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Icy, Sweet and Instagram-Ready

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That’s the concoction Rachel Lee, a student at Pratt Institute, was trying to capture last weekend before the summer evening turned dark. “I hope it doesn’t melt before I can eat it,” she said, turning the cup this way and that to find the best angle for Snapchat, and then a different one for Facebook. “But posting it is part of the point.”

Icy, pretty frozen treats from Asia — Thai ice cream rolls, Korean-style honey soft serve, Hong Kong egg waffle sundaes, Japanese parfaits, Chinese ice-cream-filled buns, Taiwanese bubble tea floats, and Filipino and Indonesian shaved ice — are popping up in more and more places in the United States, where they put the basic American scoop shop to shame.

How BuzzFeed’s Tasty Conquered Online Food

 

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No one knows who invented the overhead food video. Like image-macro memes or Slender Man, it most likely emerged in some primordial message-board swamp. But like everything else online, the format has since been refined, professionalized and monetized, and today most of these clips are produced on media assembly lines in Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo and London by a single entity: Tasty, a division of BuzzFeed that has turned the overhead food video into a hypergrowth business.

…BuzzFeed is obsessive about learning from past successes, and once it finds a theme or format that hits, it tends to repeat it until it’s dead. That’s why you’ll see a lot of videos featuring cheese, steak, bacon and pasta, some of the most popular ingredients. And it’s why Tasty videos always feature a money shot.

“Cheese pulls and gooey chocolate are so satisfying to watch, and those frames almost make you gasp out loud because they look so good,” Ms. King said. “We try to create those moments in every video, whether it’s an indulgent ingredient like cheese, or a fun way to use up leftovers, or cooking food in a way you haven’t seen.”

Kitchen gadgets review: the Selfie Toaster – ‘a boasty-toasty aberration’

Rhik Samadder tests the Selfie Toaster

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The end times are here again, as proven by this toaster that can print your face on bread. The narcissist’s grill is manufactured by Burnt Impressions (other “Vermont Novelty Toaster Corporations” are available. Not really), to whom I had to email a photo of myself. I am intrigued by the plasma-cut metal stencils that arrive a few weeks later. Should you tire of self-cannibalism, other templates thrown in include I ♥ you, a CND logo, a crab and a lobster – these the biggest mystery (why two crustaceans? WHY TWO?).

What Your Yelp Review Says About You

drink

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Here are a few common examples of Yelp review comments and their actual meanings:

“The staff was snooty” I felt intimidated by how fancy this place was and/or arrived underdressed.

“The actor/waiter was…” My waiter was extremely good-looking and I resent that.

“Not authentic” I’d like to take this opportunity to brag about my world travels to a bunch of strangers online.

“Hipster” There was kale on the menu and nobody else was wearing UGG boots.

“We didn’t get a free ____” I am a terrible human being who doesn’t comprehend how the economy works.

“The portions were too small” I’m probably from the Midwest and/or typically dine at large chains where I’m accustomed to being served a giant trough of food.

“Too scene-y” Nobody hit on me.

“Not enough vegetarian options” I use my dietary restrictions as a means to get attention and can’t accomplish that at an actual vegetarian restaurant, which is where I should have gone in the first place.

“The ______ was terrible” I lack a basic understanding of the concept of personal preference.

 

 

Ikea Makes Fun of Your Obsessive Food Instagramming

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IKEA just laid down the gauntlet for people who routinely strive to take the perfect photo of their food to post on Instagram. A new ad from the Swedish home furnishings company pokes fun at the ridiculousness of such habits by taking the process back in time before social media, the internet, or even cameras, showing a family waiting in agony to eat as an artist painstakingly documents a lavish banquet meal. Then, he prances about the countryside showing off the still life and raking in a series of thumbs up from passersby.